The first part of this series addressed the origins of Buddhist revivalism and its impact on developing a strong Sinhala Buddhist identity during the colonial period. While the concept was not adopted broadly, it remained an influential philosophy among some religious and political classes. With the arrival of independence, Buddhist revivalism was re-invigorated and reinvented to chart the future of post-Colonial Ceylon (Sri Lanka from 1972). It played an important role in pushing Sinhalese culture and religion to the forefront of the island’s national identity and sought to right the wrongs of over four-hundred years of colonial rule. However, It also contributed to the deterioration of ethnic relations between Sinhalese and Tamils, culminating in a decades long civil war.
State building in a post-Colonial World
There was no lack of conflict in the new born states of the post-colonial era. As European powers pulled out of much of Asia and Africa, a plethora of states were born. Ravaged by centuries of colonial extraction, these states clearly lacked the political maturity that their former rulers had developed through centuries of practice with the Westphalia nation-state model.
Probably the most important goals for indigenous political elites at this time, were national integration and state-building. The national government had to extend its authority throughout the newly formed boundaries of the state. This was troublesome because many of these states were unified or shaped geographically through colonialism; in some cases, groups locked within a single state had little prior interaction with some of their new compatriots.